Conservative Evangelicalism

Theology Thursday - The Idol of "Relevance"

In this excerpt from his little book Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance,1 Os Guinness puts his finger on a key issue in the conservative Christian sub-culture. His comments are even more interesting when you consider the book was published in 2003:

It’s sad to say that rarely has the church seen so many of its leaders solemnly presenting the faith in public in so many weak, trite, foolish, disastrous, and even disloyal ways as today. Such leaders do not speak for most ordinary Christians I know. I suspect the press and media invite them to fulfill a stereotype rather than represent a serious position, but again and again for those who hold the faith with all their hearts and minds, the outcome is anger or sorrow.

But this is no time for logging dead horses. What we need to do is not only explore how this self-inflicted stupidity has happened, but how we can do better in a day that is hungry for a word from God …

Curiously, an embarrassing fact confronts those who inquire into the problem. This monumental and destructive carelessness has coincided exactly with a mania for relevance and reinvention that has gripped the church. So a disconcerting question arises: How on earth have we Christians become so irrelevant when we have tried so hard to be relevant? And by what law or logic is it possible to steer determinedly in one direction but end up in completely the opposite direction?

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Cultural Fundamentalism or Cultural Evangelicalism?

From Theologically Driven. Posted with permission.

Over the past decade it has been popular to distinguish between “cultural fundamentalism” and “historic fundamentalism.” Cultural fundamentalism is regarded by its critics as very, very bad. It consists of folksy/outdated traditionalism that has drifted from its quaint, innocuous origins and has entered a bitter, skeptical stage of life—complete with theological errors of a sort that typically attend aging, countercultural movements. Historic fundamentalism, which focuses more on basic theological issues, fares a little bit better, but only a very little bit. Critics puzzle over those who accept this label, marveling that anyone would risk associative guilt by lingering near those nasty cultural fundamentalists: “Why not get with the program,” they ask, “and become a conservative evangelical?”

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